AKA: Forrey, Marjorie, House, Santa Monica, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: [unspecified]

Dates: constructed 1937

1 story

Architect Neutra (1892-1970) designed this minimal house for an elderly client in 1936-1937, working with his trusted assistant, Peter Pfisterer (1907- ). The residence cost $3,500.

The Malcolmson House housed a single person, and was, therefore, planned to have minimal space and amenities. It consisted of a single open living space with a curving glass wall along the west. Small alcoves containing a dressing room, kitchen and bath opened off the living room. The living room extended out over a steeply descending hillside, supported partially by pilotis. By jutting the house out, the architect saved garden space for the main house. Neutra scholar Thomas S. Hines said of the Malcolmson House: "The Malcolmson house, a tiny retirement cottage for an elderly Massachusetts grandmother perched on a...precipitous site in Rustic Canyon, Los Angeles (1937), proved that devoted modernists did not have to be young." (See Thomas S. Hines, Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture, [New York: Oxford University Press, 1982], p. 125) An interesting detail was the ship's ladder that stood to the west of the main entry that led up to a roof deck. An article on the Malcolmson House in the Architectural Forum of 04/1937 noted: "A roof deck doubles the living space, and takes advantage of the superb view; for economy, a ladder is used for access." (See "Guest House for David Malcolmson, Santa Monica, California, Richard J. Neutra, Architect; Peter Pfisterer, Collaborator", Architectural Forum, 66: 4, 314-316, 04/1937.) It seems unlikely, however, that the elderly occupant of the residence could have used this steep ladder regularly.

PCAD id: 18049